When I started out in the eighties as a young researcher, the monitoring of the ground level drop in peat meadow areas was a small project for which I was made responsible. It is difficult to find financing for monitoring, and for years it was an ailing project that could only proceed thanks to several researchers working on it in their spare time. In due course we succeeded in making a wider audience aware of the fact that subsidence and CO2 from peat meadow areas are linked to climate change and the rising sea level. This, plus an EU project (EUROPEAT) for which I was the coordinator, made it possible to really start looking for solutions. In 2003, in collaboration with colleagues from what is now called Wageningen UR Livestock Research and the at the time experimental farm Zegveld - now Veenweide Innovatie Centrum, VIC (Peat Meadow Innovation Centre) - the first underwater drains were laid, followed by a number of projects carried out in partnership with the different water boards and provinces of the western peat meadow area and LTO (Dutch Federation of Agriculture and Horticulture). Currently, two EU projects are running in which we propagate the application of underwater drains.
I come from a farming family, and farmers have a strong sense of duty in respect of taking good care of the land and passing it on to their children and grandchildren in good condition. As a result of climate change this is almost certainly not going to happen. By nature I am a researcher, looking for practical and feasible solutions. By means of this innovation, I aim to make an important contribution to the mitigation of CO2 emissions and the adaptation to climate change.